Come Ye Blessed...
CHURCH OF HOLY TRINITY
Church Post Code NG12 5QS
There was three Vale Of Belvoir Angel stones recorded in the Heathcote study when they visited here in the mid 1970's. A;; three are close together, to the side of the pathway which leads up to the south porch. It was great to meet three people in the church grounds who were interested in what I was photographing.
First up is a stone to one Mary Cumberland. This stone is quite badly damaged with the top half of the angel's face missing. The damage runs across the entire top of the stone, so any possible symbolism that would have been in the top left and right hand corners is now also missing.
Only the basic details are still legible. There is an epitaph at the foot of the stone, but this is very weathered and partially sunk in to the ground.
What is still legible reads 'Mary wife of Matthew Cumberland who departed this life June 5th Anno Dom 1724 in the 41st year of her age'.
The gravestone to Joseph Frank sits alongside the stone to his daughter Hannah, and has done for 300 years!
This stone is another that is fairly weathered but it is intact and still perfectly legible. This is a fairly basic Belvoir Angel stone compared to some.
It reads 'Joseph Frank who departed this life the 5th July 1721 in the 48th year of his age'
'Remember man that die thou must as like to me return to dust'
The people of this time lived terribly hard and often very short lives. Life expectancy was in the early 40's with infant mortality at a very high rate. Those who made it through their childhood were far from safe, with many still passing away before they reached 30.
Here we have a stone to Hannah, wife of Joseph Smalley, who died aged just 18 years.
This is a beautifully crafted stone, which has aged far better than the other two to be found here. 'Remember Death' is carved across the top of the stone; the angel on this one frowning.
This stone reads 'Hannah Smalley ye wife of Joseph Smalley and daughter of Joseph Frank by Rebekah his wife who departed this life February 18th 1721 in ye 18th year of her age'
The epitaph below is inscribed 'Sleep thou blest creature in thy vine my sighes and teares will not awake thee I must live to my appointed time and then O then I'll overtake thee'
Below that it reads 'Watch for ye know neither ye day nor ye hour when ye son of man cometh'.
This inscription is from Matthew Chapter 25 verse 13, and is in the King James language of that day. This is a very interesting choice of verse, coming as it does right at the end of Jesus' parable of the wise and foolish virgins/brides. There were five wise and five foolish virgins; the wise had oil in their lamps the foolish had no oil. They were awaiting the bridegroom (Jesus). The bridegroom arrived and those without oil were unprepared. They asked to be let in and the reply was 'Verily I say un to you I know you not'.
The message from this parable is the same as the messages from countless gravestones from this area and throughout the country. Be prepared as you do not know when your time will come. The symbols of hour glass and crossed bones, along with countless verses of text, all say the same. Be prepared, face your own mortality and live each day as if it will be your last. Don't be unprepared like the foolish virgins.
Hannah here was just 18 years old when she died. In those days, where death was a part of every day life, people had to face their own mortality and live accordingly, whether they were 18 or 81 years old.